Monday, December 31, 2012

12 Apps of Christmas: December sees the promise of the new digital platforms needlessly endangered by the very players who invented them

The Twelve Days of Christmas runs from Christmas Day to the evening of January 5th, or Twelfth Night.  TNM's 12 Apps of Christmas, which began the week before Christmas, has looked at the significant media events and new apps of 2012. Today we have reached December.

The month of December has shown both the great promise of the new digital platforms, as well as the great dangers inherent in them. Fantastic new apps, such as KIDS DISCOVER, launched in December by Joe Zeff Design, show what can be accomplished with the tablet publishing platform. At the same time, the demise of The Daily was used as proof that the platform can not sustain a profitable new publishing venture.

My own enthusiasm for the new platforms – both mobile and tablets – took a major hit in December when Apple redesigned its own App Store in a way that now makes it nearly impossible for new apps to be discovered without the help of Apple itself or at great marketing expense. The redesign changed the outward look of all the international App Stores, but it was the change to the U.S. App Store that was the most discouraging to new developers.

Where do we go from here? Is the future of the new digital platforms a world where only the largest media companies will be able to show off their new products? Or is there still room in the App Store for start-ups and independents to thrive?
Tablet publishing is now a worldwide phenomenon.
In 2010, the year TNM launched, the big question was whether the new digital platforms were going to grow to a point where it made sense for media companies to create products for them. This question has been decided: smartphones and tablets are here to stay.

In 2013 the big question may be whether the new platforms will remain open to start-ups and independents, whether Apple and other platform owners will continue to promote only the big media players, those willing to pay-to-play.

We may be on the verge of a media revolution, assuming the big tech companies do not make more missteps. Like all revolutions, the old order will be shaken. The effects of online publishing is now being amplified by the introduction of the mobile and tablet platforms. Old media companies that have not proved able to hang onto their ad dollars online, will no doubt not attract ad dollars to the new platforms either.

But the mobile and tablet platforms are now a worldwide phenomenon. The next step is to make them pay, to build business models that will lead not only to new products, but to a whole new media industry. We need to dream big. It is time to think not about surviving the revolution, but in prospering.

It is time to make the new media platforms pay.